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Who's Really More Productive? Ranking the Top-20 US vs European States

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Jun 23, 2011
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While famed New York Times columnist and Nobel Prize-winning Keynesian Paul Krugman has written, “Europe is an economic success, and that success shows that social democracy works,” University of Michigan economics professor Mark Perry argues quite a different story.

Based on recent data from the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), Perry has compared the per capita output of the 50 US states to European countries and found that as a group Europe — in terms of GDP adjusted for purchasing power parity (PPP) — has a $32,700 PPP GDP per capita, and could likely benefit from learning a little something from even humble Mississippi, the poorest US state, at $32,764. Perry also highlights how even mighty Germany falls at #47 according to his measures.

Here are the top 20 from Prof. Mark Perry’s Carpe Diem blog comparison:

Rank | State | 2010 GDP per Capita (PPP)

* District of Columbia, $168,327

* Luxembourg, $81,383

1 Alaska, $70,814

2 Delaware, $69,880

3 Wyoming, $68,162

4 Connecticut, $66,022

5 New York, $59,596

6 Massachusetts, $58,339

7 New Jersey, $55,715

8 Virginia, $53,113

9 Colorado, $52,205

* Norway, $52,013

10 California, $51,905

11 North Dakota, $51,882

12 Minnesota, $51,238

13 Maryland, $51,224

14 Washington, $50,912

15 Illinois, $50,581

16 South Dakota, $49,741

17 Texas, $49,119

18 Nebraska, $48,708

19 Hawaii, $48,697

20 Oregon, $48,590

Only two European countries — Luxembourg and Norway (the latter of which is neither part of the EU, nor does it use the euro) — even make the top 20. In fact, the list would need to extend all the way down to #31, Georgia, and #32, Utah, to find the next European nation, Switzerland, wedged in between. This is despite being the famed private banking center and, again, the non-EU, non-euro using nation that it is.

Of course, GDP adjusted by PPP does not take into consideration certain quality of life issues such as living standards, vacation time, healthcare, and a host of other factors… however, it’s interesting to note that at least by some measures, the US continues to come out ahead. You can check out the complete top-50 list in a Carpe Diem blog post on how Europe could get an economic lesson from Mississippi.

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Rocky Vega,

The Daily Reckoning

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